I was a vegetarian quite young
When I first started becoming a vegetarian, my (former) husband was a BIG meat eater. It was tricky. When he travelled for his job, which was often, my two small children and I would quietly morph into vegetarianism. I didn't tell the children, no, I just did it. I was very much inspired by old books which I found here and there, with scientific (and otherwise) information on food, and many vegetarian recipes.
We ate a lot of rice
What I did with my children was have a few recipes which I collected from like-minded friends and my old health food books. My husband liked rice, with nearly every meal, and it had to be white, so I used Uncle Ben's rice, which is steam-processed so that the vitamins and minerals were pushed back into the rice during processing. I don't know if the three minute ones have the same nutritional value, so I don't use them. I found the one that I used, which is still available, and takes 10-20 minutes to cook, to to be the next best thing to brown rice.
These days I just use white basmati, or ordinary brown rice, not long grain, and the organic ones are delicious. Grain ambrosia. Uncle Ben's, Doongara, Basmati, and brown rice are beneficial for keeping our blood sugar stable. I'm sure that there must be others too. p.s. you can also put in some stock or stock powder whilst the rice is cooking. I don't use the boxes of stock, as they often have tomato in them, and I'm allergic to tomato.
For my youngest, I also used a soya spiral pasta (soyaroni), for stir-fries, etc. I haven't been able to find it for a long time. But these days there are many different types of other pasta that are made from different types of grains.
I was a sneaky healthy cook
And I was inspired by an article in a health magazine, years ago, titled "Confessions of a sneaky organic cook". I couldn't actually afford organic, but I bought the best ingredients that I could find. And I learnt how to quietly amp up our nutrition without telling anyone, especially my husband who had very fixed meaty ideas about what we were going to eat. (Making me a sneaky high-nutrition cook)
I had home-sprouted sprouts on a dish on the table for the children to snack on. The nutrition within a seed, or a legume, is greatly amplified when they are sprouted.
I made my own yoghurt from a culture which I note is identical to kefir culture (just saying...)
And made extremely delicious iceblocks from fresh orange juice, real vanilla essence, and my yoghurt.
Yoghurt and fruit was our usual dessert until one of my children found out that proper pudding involved ice cream and tinned peaches.
I bought fresh wheat germ which I now can't find anywhere, just the imported one, or supermarket wheat germ. Most mornings I made wheat germ smoothies, which my eldest still wistfully talks about. Wheat germ is the heart of a grain of wheat, and is packed with vitamins and minerals.
There was a non-instant milk powder which was processed differently from the instant, and had more nutrients. Again discontinued. I used it like a protein powder, and would add one quarter of a cup of this milk powder to our container of milk for extra protein.
We had the aforementioned wheat germ smoothies
- a banana, milk
- vanilla essence
- a couple of tablespoons of milk powder
- a tablespoon or two of wheat germ
- and fresh orange juice.
- sometimes I used unsulphured dried fruit: dates or dried apricots, as well.
Another smoothie is:
- a dash of honey
- a couple of tablespoons of wheat germ,
- about a half a cup of berries.
- yummy yoghurt which has fruit puree in it
- soya milk
- one tablespoon each of wheat germ and protein powder.
With my youngest I used:
- whey concentrate, which is less processed than whey isolate, instead of the milk powder and wheat germ
- some yoghurt
- and often added spirulina and berries.
Other more modern alternatives are to use coconut water, or one of the nut, seed, or grain "milks" as your base: such as almond, oat, soy, or rice milk. Then there is the nutri-bullet which is able to rend fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds into a delicious drink.
I always felt that breakfast was a good time to I install some nutritious eating habits into my children, plus get some protein into them so that they had some brain fuel for the rest of the day.
When one decides to eat less meat, it is still important to find alternative sources of protein and nutrients. Smoothies are great, and you can also use coconut or soya yoghurt.
I fortified our flour
My ex husband hated "brown" bread, so I learnt to use unbleached flour (yep, bleach in our "white" flour - surely this is poisonous?), and in each cup of flour that I was using, I would first put a tablespoon each of milk powder, wheat germ, and soy flour, then topped up the cup with the flour.
I used this for the infrequent baking, fritters and scones, that I did. Again, more nutrients, and more protein. Plus wheat germ has vitamin e, and b vitamins. I quietly did this for years, and as I write, I'm wondering why I'm not still doing it.
That there are alternative choices of protein than meat. And using some of these other foods means that we are also not spending so much money on expensive protein.